5 Major Differences Between The Girl on the Train Book and the Movie

Whenever a movie adaptation is released, we can't help but think back to the source material. The Girl on the Train was the must-read thriller of 2015, and for the most part, the movie sticks to the book. However, there are at least five big differences that you'll notice — even if it's been months since you read the book. If you're planning on seeing the movie, stop reading after the third point. If you don't care about spoilers, read on!

  1. The movie is set in New York. Readers may recall that the book is set in London's suburbs, but according to an Entertainment Weekly interview with the film's screenwriter, setting the film overseas "wasn't even on the table" when she began work on the screenplay. One of the reasons she chose the area to set the movie is because she herself is very familiar with the Metro-North Hudson train line. "The train itself is totally unsexy, but the river is, and the backyards, and the suburbs — Croton-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry, all these places you look at when you're coming out of the grayness of the city and you think, 'Oh my God, I could live there.' There's a lot of dreams there."
  2. Everyone is American, but Rachel is still British. Despite the fact that they moved the entire setting, Emily Blunt kept her accent for the role. "[Director] Tate [Taylor] really loved the idea of maintaining the accent," Blunt told us. "Number one because New York is so cosmopolitan, there's British people everywhere. It was also sort of an ode to the book, which is nice. And Tate liked the idea that how I speak makes me even more isolated, in a strange way. Even more removed from everybody else."
  3. A woman is the lead investigator. Though the book introduces Detectives Gaskill and Riley, it's Gaskill who takes the lead on the investigation. Riley, whom Rachel describes as "younger than I am, tall, slim, dark-haired, pretty in a sharp-featured, vulpine sort of way," plays second fiddle. In the movie, Riley (Allison Janney) is the prominent investigator.
Everett Collection

Spoilers below!

  1. Martha is not in the books. Lisa Kudrow's inclusion in the film is probably the biggest way the movie veers from the film. She appears as Martha (originally written as Monica but changed after the production team realized they might accidentally give Friends fans false hope of a reunion), the wife of Tom's former boss. Martha serves to help Rachel realize that Tom had lied to her about her violent and embarrassing episodes. According to director Tate Taylor, they added the character for a reason: "In the novel it simply states that Rachel remembers," he told The Wall Street Journal. "I needed to find a way to dramatize that, that both serves her character and fits into the genre of thriller, of shock and awe."
  2. The climactic fight is slightly different. As terrifying as Tom is in the final minutes of the film, his character is a lot more cruel in the book. His mask drops, he says horrible things to Rachel and Anna about his relationships with them and how weak they are, and he holds onto baby Evie for a much longer — scarier — amount of time.